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Published: Monday, 8/2/2004

Radio host gets new name with each job


That's his radio name and he's sticking to it. At least while he's at WTWR-FM (98.3).

Josh Garber, a 2002 Springfield High School graduate, may hold the record for most on-air monikers before the age of 21. He was known as "Opie" on Toledo's WWWM-FM (105.5) and "Jo Jo" on WTCF-FM (100.5) in Saginaw, Mich., before switching to "Lucas" when he joined Tower 98 in March.

Lucas covers the 7 p.m.-to-midnight shift for the Monroe station, which has a contemporary hits/pop format and targets the 18-to-34 demographic.

Opie is a name given to him by WWWM program director Steve Marshall. (Yes, Marshall said the then-intern reminded him of the boy on The Andy Griffith Show.) He spent three years at adult-contemporary Star 105, which, like Tower 98, is owned by Cumulus.

Ironically, because Star 105 targets listeners age 25 to 54, Opie had to sound "older" than Tower 98's Lucas.

"I'm more comfortable on the air now, and there's more I can get away with," Lucas said. "There's a lot more edge."

In other words, he's acting his age. He will turn 21 on Nov. 15.

Using the system for movie ratings, he said Opie was "G" and Lucas is "PG" (after 10 p.m., it would go to "PG-13").

He credits Marshall and "Train" -- the WTWR program director whom he met when they worked at WWWM -- for teaching him "everything I know in radio." The main lessons learned have a common thread: hard work.

"He is a program director's dream come true," Train said. "With his dedication, his work ethic, his passion, and his talent, he really stands out. He's exactly what this station needed."

WTWR considers its main competition to be Clear Channel's WVKS-FM (92.5). In Arbitron's winter survey, WVKS was No. 1 in the 7 p.m.-to-midnight time slot among listeners age 12-plus while WTWR tied for fifth.

How does he compare to his counterpart at WVKS, "Kramer"?

"I'm a lot more local," Lucas said. "I know Toledo a lot more. I grew up here."

At this stage in his career, Lucas says he prefers working nights because it coincides with the lifestyle of his core audience.

"Night-time radio is a lot of fun," he said. "You can get away with more."

There he goes again. Lucas, it seems, is the anti-Opie.

IN LIMBO?: Chrys Peterson's five-year contract expired on Saturday, and there's no word from WTOL-TV, Channel 11, regarding her status. If she anchors the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts with Terry Thill today, as is expected, then it means she probably signed a short-term extension. If she had signed a five-year deal, WTOL likely would have issued a press release -- but general manager Bob Chirdon was silent about her status. Peterson, who has been at the station since 1994 and is arguably Toledo's most popular television personality, declined comment.

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